The perks of volunteering

By Sonia Isaacs

How long have you been volunteering and what inspired you to be involved with the Visitor Information Centres?

I have been volunteering for more than 20 years with the visitor information centres. I originally came across a ‘shout out’ for volunteers in the free local paper when I was sitting at home in 2002 after a redundancy from Commonwealth Bank. One of our long-standing volunteers Roger Thomson (now 90 years of age and still volunteering) helped to train me in my new endeavour, and I immediately felt like an important ‘cog’ in the wheel of providing information to our visitors.

What do you love about working at the Glass House Mountains Visitor Information Centre?

I love my role at the centre as it is a great way to meet new people. I also love to promote our magnificent Sunshine Coast area. I always learn something during my interaction with visitors.

As I have no other language than English, I sometimes must rely on pen and paper to get my message across if visitors have limited English. I find that fascinating! Finding out where they are from and where they have had experiences in the world is like doing a ‘virtual trip’.  I never tire of it. I only do one shift a fortnight but find the time in between soon disappears with my wish to be back as soon as possible.

Would you encourage others to volunteer and why?

I would certainly encourage anyone with a spare morning or afternoon to reach out to our Visit Sunshine Coast regarding volunteering at Glasshouse Centre. Personally, I believe learning new skills will always help your physical and mental health. I have made some long friendships in our volunteer base.  One of my best friends I met through the information centres and her and I use our Saturday morning shift to catch up if we have had no contact through the previous fortnight. The drive out from Caloundra is a lovely country drive. Learning about what our amazing business owners provide for our visitors and locals is likewise great knowledge to have.  The other thing I feel we get from our volunteering is a forever feeling of giving back to our community.

What are some of the ‘perks’ of working at the visitor information centres?

At Glasshouse Information Centre we have a great place to spend our time helping people. Our centre was built with great thought put into ‘green credentials’ so our air conditioning works with the building style. We have great information regarding the history and geology of our mountains, so school groups take advantage of this information. It is a very easy place to spend time. We are given for ‘free’ everything to make providing our information to our visitors easy. 

We are also taken on trips to new and long-standing tourism businesses for us to learn what they provide. Recently we were taken on a day trip through the amazing Noosa Everglades to name just one.  We usual have quite a number of these throughout the year. I always look forward to the interaction with volunteers from other centres on these great outings. We even have the opportunity sometimes to travel (usually by bus) to other adjoining tourism areas. What a great way to spend your time!

Visit Sunshine Coast operate three of the Visitor Information Centres (VICs) in the region including the facility at Glass House Mountains and would love to welcome more volunteers to the team. If you are keen to embark on a new activity or give back to the community, why not consider becoming a volunteer? Local knowledge preferred but not essential, training and uniform provided, and shifts typically half a day and available seven days. Interested? Contact beth.mahoney@visitsunshinecoast.com or call 0458 788 285.